Oct. 25--POTSDAM -- Ever since his haunting first hit song played on the airwaves in his native Israel in 2003, Idan Raichel has been an ambassador for peace.
The Idan Raichel Project would soon become known around the world for its ambitious cross-cultural collaborations, which were seen in that first hit, "Bo'ee." The "global fusion" song was in the Ethiopian language of Amharic.
On Wednesday, Potsdam will be introduced to Mr. Raichel's energetic live act as part of the Community Performance Series. The concert is at SUNY Potsdam's Maxcy Hall.
"Idan is committed to, and has clearly demonstrated the concept that the power of music transcends political beliefs and personal differences," said Amy L. Flack, executive director of the Community Performance Series. "We are likening him to an Israeli Dave Matthews."
The 12 members in The Idan Raichel Project are from around the world, including the countries of Ethiopia, Brazil, France and Sudan.
"They sing in as many languages as their nationalities," Mrs. Flack said.
Their music includes a mix of Ethiopian folk music, Arabic poetry, Yemenite chants, Biblical psalms and Caribbean rhythms.
Mr. Raichel is a keyboardist, producer and composer from Kfar Saba, a city near Tel Aviv. He was born in 1977 to a family with Eastern European roots. Music was an important part of his upbringing, but his parents did not place much emphasis on it.
"I think the fact that I didn't have strong family musical roots is what made me (to) be very open to music from all over the world," Mr. Raichel said in a news release.
He started playing the accordion ("the uncoolest instrument ever," he wrote) when he was 9 years old, and he became attracted to the exotic sounds of Gypsy music and tango.
He began playing keyboards and studied jazz in high school, honing his skills at improvisation and working with other musicians.
In Israel, military service is mandatory for all young men and women, so, at 18, Mr. Raichel was conscripted into the Israeli army.
He joined the army's rock 'n' roll band and toured military bases, performing covers of Israeli and European pop hits. As the music director of the group, he became adept at musical arrangements and producing live shows.
Mr. Raichel would later invite dozens of his friends and colleagues from Israel's diverse music scene to participate in his recordings, made in the basement studio of his parents' house.
The project's first album, self-titled, was released in 2006.
The New York Times called the album one of the top world music releases of the year.
Four more albums followed, including "Quarter to Six," released this year.
That album features guest appearances by Portuguese star Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia's Marta Gomez, Malian Vieux Farka Toure and a selection of some of Israel's up-and-coming singers and musicians.
To date, more than 95 singers ages 16 to 91 from dozens of different countries and cultural backgrounds have participated in the recordings or performances, according to the project's website.
The Idan Raichel Project has appeared at some of the world's most prestigious venues, including Central Park Summer Stage, the Apollo Theater, the Town Hall and Radio City Music Hall, all in New York City, Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Zenith and Bataclan in Paris, London's Royal Albert Hall and at many international festivals.
in honor of Daniel Pearl
Last week, The Idan Raichel Project was informed it has been chosen to perform at the Daniel Pearl World Music Days events. The organization was formed by Mr. Pearl's parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl, after their son, a musician and Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2002. The organization's mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and "innovative communications."
Daniel Pearl World Music Days began in 2002 with 123 concerts in 15 countries. Last year, it recorded 2,028 concerts in 79 countries.
The current lineup of The Idan Raichel Project:
Mr. Raichel, piano/keyboard and vocals, Maya Avraham, Cabra Casay and Vograss Vessa, all on vocals, Eyal Sela, master of woodwinds, Joel (Joca) Perpignan, percussion, Yaakov Segal, string instruments, Marc Kakon, guitar, Ziv Rahav, bass, Itay Nizan, drums, Alex Terrier, saxophone and Niv Toar, trumpet.
The CPS Guest Artist Series concert is the last stop on the Idan Raichel Project's U.S. tour, which also included performances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
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